VISUAL WORK INSTRUCTIONS or simply VISUAL INSTRUCTIONS
Characteristics and Benefits of Visual Instructions:
- Graphics dominate
- There is minimal text
- Text and graphics are integrated
- There is a clear point of focus
- There is a clear sequence of steps or procedures
- Allows faster, more effective worker training and orientation
- Ensures better retention of content
- Provides easier understanding for low literacy users
- Provides easier understanding for non-English users
- Provides a high-impact work-site job aid
- Reduces trial-and-error work methods
- Helps promote standardization
- Assists in developing improved work methods
- Enables more accurate work performance
- More clearly identifies procedure steps
- More easily isolates problem steps
- Improves user safety
- Improves productivity
- Reduces liability exposure
The problem with conventional written Work Instructions, is that they require reading. Many users simply won't read text-heavy conventional instructions. Instead of reading, these users will guess or start a trial-and-error approach, either of which could be wrong.
Conventional (non or minimally visual) Instructions are ineffective for training and for use as job aids because they require reading. People/workers simply don't have or want to take the time and patience to read with care and attention. Instead of reading, these users will guess or start a trial-and-error solution. Chances are, whatever they do will be wrong, and the result is a costly loss of efficiency, accuracy, productivity and quality.
Visual Instructions improve performance, efficiency, accuracy, productivity and quality, by addressing all types of users; poor readers and exceptional readers alike.
Here is a summary of what's wrong with Conventional (non-visual) Instructions:
- They require literacy and concentration
- They are not effective for use in actual workplace conditions
- They are usually not easily accessible to the user who needs them
- They do not even appear to be helpful resources
- They are not suitable for training
Why Visual Instructions are Best - Industry uses instructions to document a product, beginning with design and ending with removal and replacement. In many manuftacturing, healthcare and other facilities, written work procedures are in place to document every single function, treatment and process that takes place in the facility.
Certainly there are thorough, conscientious and methodical people who always prepare and carefully follow directions. But for most users, written, non-visual, technical instructions are a last resort. If the user believes he/she knows what to do and how to do it, he/she believes instructions are unnecessary.
Visual Instructions overcome the weaknesses of conventional instructions. In brief, Visual Instructions address two fundamental flaws of conventional instructions - 1) They reflect the needs of every user, and 2) They have easy-to-grasp graphics as a central focus, with text playing a supporting role